Wow, um…hmm…where to begin… Far Cry Primal was one of my most anticipated games of ’16 (Firewatch included, and that turned out to be a mixed bag, for me, still read our own Andrew Barton’s really stellar review.) After sinking a few hours into it, I’m pleasantly surprised. Let me explain.
Far Cry 3 is one of my favorite games of all-time. It’s an excellent FPS with a fantastic villain in Vaas, all wrapped into a lush open-world I sunk hours upon hours of my life into until I achieved the platinum trophy. That game set me off on my passion for games. I wanted more, so I was understandably beyond stoked to pick up Far Cry 4 two years later.
It was supposed to be more Far Cry, and it was - don’t get me wrong. But the story pacing was way off, Pagan Minn (voiced by none other than he only voices every voice in games Troy Baker) was trying to be Vaas and was criminally underutilized, the AI sucked and the gameplay loop became old fast.
There was nothing new introduced to the Far Cry formula that made me want to play. I angrily forced my way to the end of the game to face a lackluster ending and open-world I was tired of and, honestly, disgusted by. I didn’t want to know anything about a potential Far Cry 5 or whatever. I needed time and space.
Ubisoft caught me off guard in October when it dropped an announcement trailer for Primal. And…I…wasn’t turned off by it. I was actually pretty intrigued. It had piqued my interest. I felt feelings I thought I’d never have toward another Far Cry game. As February drew closer, I began to read and watch anything I could about Primal. Everything regarding it made me more confident it would turn out to be quite a sleeper hit. This leads me to my thoughts on the game.
The setting is awesome and absolutely beautiful. Whenever I boot up my PS4 to play, I’m so excited to not only play but to just see the differing trees, change in temperature, shift in wildlife…all depending on where you are on the map.
Not to mention, this game features a really, really great day/night cycle. Wherever you are your strategy must change. It might be ever so slight, but there’s an advantage in not using a tamed bumbling, loud brown bear when trying to capture a bonfire or outpost at night. When you can use a rare black jaguar just the same, and watch in awe at how fast and stealthily your feline companion can pick off enemies in complete silence.
A highlight of Primal is the aforementioned, more like glossed over by me, gameplay mechanic of taming some of the wildlife you come across. It’s an unlocked skill but it’s available to you almost at the very outset. I don’t want to spoil anymore of the possibilities because when I found out which fierce beasts I could have at my side, it was invigorating and had me smiling from ear-to-ear all and giddy inside.
Aside from the animals as your secondary source for the offensive in combat, what about you? What does your character do? This is where Primal shines above its predecessors. It actually innovates the formula, a simple tad bit but enough for me to find myself super addicted.
A bow-and-arrow, club, spear, and other 10,000 BCE-like weapons that can be crafted, upgraded, you name it. There are other cool things you can do with these items that make each enemy encounter cause you to think on your feet- literally. I found myself strategizing which animal to call into the fight and how best to use my weapons each and every time.
Let’s put it this way: you can’t waltz into any engagement thinking oh let me waste these handful of enemies with my two equipped weapons’ magazines. Nope. Enemies in this game are hard to take down. They can take a good thunk to the head. (Pro tip: Mind the wildlife. That’s all I’ll say.)
My only gripe with Primal is the eh story, if you can even consider it one. It’s basically survival of fittest, and really you and your slew of beasts are, obviously, the latter. I find this complaint to be a nitpick at best because everything else is truly excellent. I can’t stop and won’t stop playing. The characters are, well, they’re characters all right, yet I’m still finding myself deeply immersed in this world.
Hey, wait a minute…these are the feelings I had toward Far Cry 3. Good on you, Ubisoft. And welcome back, Far Cry.